Why we all need to pay attention to education

What you need to know:

  • The issue: Education
  • Our view: The stakeholders should use this day to reflect on what they ought to do to make sure children across the country get an education, not just sit in class. At the same time, they should increase enrollment. 

The United Nations has since 2019 marked January 24 as the International Day of Education.

The day came into existence following a December 3, 2018 resolution by the United Nations General Assembly in recognition of the role of education in fostering global peace and sustainable development. Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: “Everyone has the right to education”.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in a statement yesterday said despite efforts to drum up the importance of education, the right to its access is still a far cry for all children across the globe. 

“According to our data, 244 million of them are still out of school this year. In particular, Unesco would like to dedicate the fifth edition of this International Day to all the girls and women in Afghanistan, who have been denied their right to learn, study and teach.

“The Organization condemns this serious attack on human dignity and on the fundamental right to education. Unesco has been tirelessly calling for the immediate restoration of the right to education for all girls and young women in Afghanistan,” the statement partly stated.

As the world marks this significant day, we need to reflect on the education system back at home.

The past weeks have been rife with stories of schools hiking fees amid a difficult economic environment for both institutions and parents. The two-year Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent global events have rendered many parents unable to meet needs such as fees, which in Uganda’s case is highly charged.

Even with government directives that educational institutions should not increase fees, no one seems to have taken heed.

To this, we await the promise to take action against perpetrators when schools start in less than a fortnight. We hope we see the results.

Even then, that is just part of what should bother all of us. Statistics issued by non-governmental organisations year in, year out indicate that whereas we have had a significantly higher number of school enrollment – thanks to the free primary and secondary school education – the quality is wanting.

For instance, a 2021 Uwezo report said learners found difficulty with numeracy and literacy skills even when they appeared to be progressing from class to class.

This means they are not having an education because they are not learning.

This week, the country expects the Uganda National Examinations Board to release results of last year’s Primary Leaving Examinations. There are districts that have historically performed poorly at national examinations - and this might repeat.

The stakeholders should use this day to reflect on what they ought to do to make sure children across the country get an education, not just sit in class. At the same time, they should increase enrollment. 

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